For Mississippi schools, the transition period for testing scores is over but making comparisons to previous years may be difficult.
In the 2015-16 school year, students took tests from the Mississippi Assessment Program for the first time. The Mississippi Department of Education released the scores Thursday.
Most South Mississippi school districts performed overwhelmingly above the state average in nearly all categories, which parallels results from previous tests.
The Long Beach, Ocean Springs and Pass Christian districts maintained their dominance on test scores overall. However, results show the Moss Point School District tested well below Coast averages.
MAP tests are designed to measure student achievement for college and career readiness for English and mathematics. Students in Grades 3-8 were tested in English language arts and mathematics, and high school students were tested in Algebra I and English II.
MAP will be the statewide assessment for the next 10 years. It replaces the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests, which were given the previous year.
The state transitioned to the PARCC tests to measure student performance against higher learning goals. But Mississippi dropped out of the multi-state PARCC consortium under pressure from superintendents who disliked how long the tests took to give, in addition to backlash over the state’s use of Common Core-linked academic standards.
However, unlike the PARCC consortium, which allowed score comparisons with 11 other states, the MAP model is unique to the state.
As a result, test scores released Thursday cannot be easily compared with previous years.
“These results can serve to draw a comparison with the PARCC test results,” state Superintendent Carey Wright said, “especially with significant increases or decreases, but the true test will be with MAP numbers next year. That’s when a true comparison will be able to be drawn.”
Parents and teachers of every student who took the MAP will receive an individual-score report in the fall, the department said. The report will present an overview of a student’s subject-level performance as well as an overall score.
MAP scores are set on five levels:
▪ Level 1: Minimal — Student inconsistently demonstrates the knowledge or skills that define basic-level performance.
▪ Level 2: Basic — Student demonstrates partial mastery of the knowledge and skills in the course and may experience difficulty in the next grade or course in the content area.
▪ Level 3 Passing — Student demonstrates general mastery of the knowledge and skills required for success in the grade or course in the content area. Student is able to perform approaching or at the level of difficulty, complexity, or fluency specified by the grade-level content standards.
▪ Level 4: Proficient — Student demonstrates solid academic performance and mastery of the knowledge and skills required for success in the grade or course in the content area.
▪ Level 5: Advanced — Student consistently performs in a manner clearly beyond that required to be successful in the grade or course in the content area.
Students in Levels 4 and 5 indicate a strong grasp of grade-level standards and readiness for the next step in their education. Students who score in Level 1 or 2 are below their peer averages.
Across the state, about one-third of students were rated proficient, while another third were rated as passing but not proficient.
Reading and writing achievement in 2016 was flat from 2015, when students took the PARCC tests. Math achievement rose.
In the second year Mississippi gave juniors the ACT college test, composite scores rose from 17.6 to 18.3. Nationwide, students typically average 21.
Overall, the test results — although in their first year — tend to broadly reflect previous years’ scores. A true comparison of the data, however, cannot be made until results of the second MAP tests are published next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
2015-16 Mississippi Assessment Program scores
Grades 3-8 Math Averages
Bay St. Louis-Waveland
Pearl River County
Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Averages
Bay St. Louis-Waveland
Pearl River County